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A fish covered with golden scales
Image: Barrysclipart.com
The old man pulled in a fish. To his surprise, the fish's body was covered with golden scales.

The Old Man and the Golden Fish

A Traditional Chinese Folktale

Retold by Hoh Chee Bin from China

In this story, an old fisherman receives something wonderful, but then his greed for more good things leads to grief.

There was once an old man who liked fishing. He always fished in a lake, which was near his house. One day, the old man brought his fishing rod and fishing tackle and went out to the lake to fish after he had eaten his dinner.

When he reached the lake, the sky was becoming dark. There was a boat beside the lake. The old man used the boat and rowed to the center of the lake. He began fishing in the center of the lake. After a while, he fell asleep.

Suddenly, the old man woke up as his fishing rod was shaking. The old man pulled up the fishing rod and caught a fish. To his surprise, it was a golden fish.

Even more surprising, it could talk to the old man. "Can you let me go, please?" The fish begged the old man. "No, I am going to eat you," The old man said. "Please! Let me go. If you let me go, I will give a golden rope," the fish said.

"Golden rope? Is that true? How can I trust you?" the old man asked. "You can put your fishing rod into the lake and a few minutes after, you are going to get the golden rope, " said the fish.

The old man listened to the fish and put the fishing rod in to the lake. After he pulled up the fishing rod, he saw a golden rope attached to the fishing line. The golden rope must be very long the old man thought because he could not see the end of the golden rope. The man was very happy and he continued to pull up the golden rope.

"Let me go now that you have the golden rope," said the fish . "No, I won't let you go. I am going to sell you. I think someone will pay a very high price to get you." The old man said. The man then put the fish into a container, which was full of water and continued to up the golden rope.

As the man pulled up the golden rope, his boat began to sinkinto the lake but he was too greedy and still wanted to get all of the golden rope. He continued to pull it. Finally, his boat sank completely into the lake, and the old man died.


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